This recipe is inspired by one I found in the the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook – the Make-Ahead Cook (affiliate link), which I highly recommend. So many great strategies for make and prep ahead meals that make getting dinner on the table on a weeknight so much easier. And even my kids won’t be able to resist pasta that tastes like a cheeseburger, right?
Cheeseburger Pasta Bake
- 1 lb of elbow macaroni or other small pasta of your choice
- 2 tsp avocado oil
- 1 onion, chopped fine
- 1/2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
- 2, 15 oz cans tomato sauce
- 1/2 c chopped dill pickles
- 1, 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 1 TB Worcestershire sauce
- 1 TB dry mustard
- 8 slices deli American cheese (not that wrapped individually cheese product!)
- Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Add pasta and cook, stirring often, until pasta just begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water, then drain. Rinse with cold water. Leave in colander.
- Add oil to pot and return to medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until oil is heated and shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, 3-4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add ground beef and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until no longer pink.
- Stir in one can of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, pickles, Worcestershire and mustard. Bring to a simmer and cook about 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature (30 minutes).
- Stir reserved cooking water and pasta into cooked sauce; transfer to casserole or baking dish.
- Store: either cover the baking/casserole dish with a lid, or wrap dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
- Finish and serve: put oven rack in middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Uncover or unwrap dish and stir in second can of tomato sauce. Replace lid or cover with aluminum foil and bake until hot throughout and bubbling around edges, around 30 minutes, stir halfway through baking. Remove cover or foil, lay cheese slices evenly over top and bake, uncovered, until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Serve.